NHL Draft War Room: Pavel Zacha – Czech Mate

by Eldon MacDonald (edited by @ChrisRalphTHW)

Pavel Zacha: Ranked #8 – March Rankings

Pavel Zacha
Pavel Zacha (Photo: OHL Images)
  • Hashtag: #TheCzechAltercator
  • Team: #14, Sarnia Sting, OHL
  • Position: Centre/Left Wing
  • Shoots: Left
  • Height: 6’3
  • Weight: 210 lb.
  • Born: Brno, Czech Republic, 6-Apr-97
  • Twitter: @Pavel_Zacha



Other Rankings

  • 4 – HP – Top 60, Feb-14
  • 6 – NHL Combined – Top 305, Mid, Jan-14
  • 7 – TSN – Bob McKenzie’s Poll of NHL Scouts – Top 60 – Mid, Jan-14
  • 9 – FC – Top 30, Mar-14
  • 9 – McKeens – Top 30, Mar-14
  • 9 – THN – Ryan Kennedy – Top 30, Jan-14
  • 11 – ISS – Top 30, Mar-14
  • 14 – SN – Damien Cox, Mar-14 – Top 30
  • 14 – THW – Christopher Ralph, Top 30, Mid, Feb-14
  • 28 – TSN – Craig Button – Top 100, Mar-14

THW’s Draft War Room: The Czech Altercator

Eldon MacDonald, THW:  A few words on Pavel Zacha:

This Czech Does the Altercating to You!

The Czech Altercator – Pavel is a player with desirable size that can alter a game almost instantaneously with his bone jarring hits and his elite NHL level of shots, particularly his wrister and one-timer. He will have to get better control on his selection of hits as he has been subject to two suspensions this far in the season.

Five Reasons Why Pavel Zacha Will Be the First European Player Playing in North America Chosen in the 2015 NHL Draft

  • The Hardest Hitter: No one hits harder in the 2015 draft class, no one.
  • The Best Wrister: Release, velocity, placement – fantastic. A lot of times the goalie will say the same thing that my brother said when he was almost hit by lightning, “I didn’t have time to move.”
  • Elite One-Timer: Off the stick and in one motion, with no time elapsed.

  • Elite Size: 6’3, 210 and athletic.
  • Drive: A drive and an intensity that can make defensemen shrivel.


  • Skating: Very explosive, first gear and top-end speed. Good lateral movement.
  • Shooting: Wrister and one-timer – both phenomenal. Has a shoot first mentality.
  • Stickhandling: Impressive – Size, reach, speed, wide stance, dekes, feints combine with nice hands to make an impressive package.
  • Passing: Elite level hands – adept at making tape to tape passes.
  • Works Well in Traffic: Composure, stance, drive, size work well together to make him formidable in traffic.

Defense: Pavel can play defense and his hitting just destroys the opposition. He loves to play physical.

Awards and Achievements

  • 2013-14 – IIHF U18 Tournament – Czech Republic – Silver Medal

Improvements to make: Pavel has some improvements to make in his game to get the results expected from someone with his elite physical skills and athleticism. These improvements include:

  • Cycle game – Pavel is great at entering the zone with speed and the puck on his stick but must work on his game within the zone after the initial rush – cycling, net presence, hitting the open man.
  • Puck support on leaving the defensive zone – Pavel could use some lessons on what he needs to do to support his defense in getting the puck out of the defensive zone.
  • Overall play without the puck – Pavel needs a better overall sense of what he needs to do to put his team in the best position to succeed when the puck is not on his stick.
  • Better utilization of teammates – Pavel can make great passes but sometimes tries to do too much himself.
  • Small ice surface game – Pavel’s season has been interrupted through numerous suspensions and injuries. I think his North American game just needs time to mature.

NHL Projection: If Pavel improves his game to somewhere close to his physical skills, he will be an elite first line player, most likely at left wing. Even if he doesn’t, his elite physical skills are likely to put him in the NHL, most likely as a second liner.

Draft placement : There is a fairly wide divergence on Pavel for someone who is ranked so high in the draft. That is because Pavel has the elite size, the elite physical skills, the elite skating and the elite drive that teams are looking in a power forward in today’s NHL. However, Pavel’s results and game so far do not come close to measuring up to his impressive physical skills. Therefore, some rankings are starting to reflect that divergence. As for me, I remain at the high-end of the rankings (ranked 8th) because I believe his game will eventually come around even if it is not in this season.

Those In the Know:

  • Quote 1: NHL.com – Chris Edwards from NHL Central Scouting, “He’s got high-end skill and is an excellent competitor. He plays an excellent two-way game. In the game I saw him play he broke up a few rushes in his own end and transitioned up the ice really well. He’s physical and solid on his skates and can separate guys from the puck.”
  • Quote 2: Elite Prospects.com – Curtis Joe, “Pavel Zacha is an offensively dynamic center with the size, speed, and skill to make a significant impact on the game. He can play physical, but is at his best when using his high-end offensive abilities, such as his shot, stickhandling, and footspeed, to generate numbers in the opposition’s end of the ice. All-in-all, Zacha is a lethal weapon that can be depended upon to create, and finish, dangerous scoring chances whenever he is on the ice.”
  • Quote 3: OHL Prospects Blog – Brendan Ross, Co-Manager for Dobber Prospects and scout for McKeen’s Hockey and TheScout.ca, “Despite mediocre production, Zacha is a toolsy player that has yet to gain momentum in his draft class (due to suspensions, his WJC participation and now a lengthy injury). An outstanding skater with elite level hands, Zacha can make defenders miss due to his blazing speed or clever and unexpected passing ability. As he learns to slow the game down and blend his speed, vision, passing abilities and outstanding shot to give him multiple layers of attack, we will then see why I have him ranked this high.”
  • Quote 4: Last Word On Sports – Ben Kerr, Zacha has the skills to be a power forward at the NHL level. He is a good skater with a powerful stride that can help him to drive the net and has the soft hands to finish in close. His wrist shot has great power and a hair trigger release. His vision and passing skill is also decent, but Zacha is very much a shoot first kind of player.”
  • Quote 5: The Peterborough Examiner – Dominic Kubalik, Team Captain for the Czech Republic Team at the IIHF 2015 U20 Tournament, “If we make plays for Pavel, he’s going shoot and score all the time. He’s got maybe the best shot on the team.”



  • Profile 1: Sportsnet.ca – Arden Zwelling – 27-Jan-15
  • Profile 2: NHL.com – Mike G. Morreale – 11-Dec-14
  • Profile 3: Dobber Prospects.com – Brendan Ross – 26-Nov-14
  • Profile 4: The Hockey News – Ryan Kennedy – 10-Apr-14
  • Profile 5: AllHabs.net – Radoslav Vavřina – 21-Jan-14


  • Video 1: Winning Goal versus Team Russia – R3D3Y3